Allan Lichtman is a political historian at American University who wrote a book entitled The Keys to the White House which lays out 13 true or false statements that have helped him correctly predict the results of the last nine presidential elections.
What are those 13 statements or keys? Here’s a sampling of a few:
- Party mandate: “After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.”
- Scandal: “The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.”
- Short-term economy: “The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.”
- Foreign/military success: “The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.”
Using such keys, Lichtman is able to determine if an incumbent president or his party will be successful in the next election.
Lichtman recently applied those 13 keys to Donald Trump and the Trump administration, and he says the Donald is toast when the votes are counted in November.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Lichtman explained to Salon, Trump had a chance of winning reelection:
“There were four keys solidly locked in against the president” prior to the outbreak, Lichtman explained. “It takes six to predict defeat. But this was before [the pandemic]. Key 1: Party mandate. Key 9: Scandal. Key 11: Foreign/military success. Key 12: incumbent charisma. That’s four false keys locked in.”
But COVID-19 has changed everything, Lichtman noted:
“The current crisis, which is biological, governmental and societal, puts into jeopardy two additional keys,” Lichtman explained. Those would be “Key 5, the short-term economy — many economists are predicting that we’re going to slide into a recession, or may already be in a recession — and Key 8, the social unrest key. And it makes Key 10, foreign policy or military failure, even more shaky than before.” Lichtman earlier suggested that relations with North Korea and the unstable situation in the Middle East could endanger Key 10 for Trump.”
That would give Trump six keys working against him, and that tells Lichtman no matter who the Democrats nominate to face Trump, the president will likely lose the 2020 election:
“Remember, the basic theory behind the keys is that elections are essentially votes up or down on whether or not the party holding the White House should get four more years.”
Pandemic. Recession. Scandal. Impeachment. All point to Trump being what he dreads most: A failed one-term president.
Here’s hoping Professor Litchman is correct yet again.